Chapter 5

The 1919 Season Continues - The University of Virginia in Charlottesville

Centre had never played the University of Virginia, but it was known that the “Wahoos,” the nickname of the college adopted in the 1890's, were capable of playing good football.

Virginia had gone 23-3 during the 1913-15 seasons, with the losses being to Georgetown, DC, in 1913, to Yale in 1914, and Harvard in 1915.

Virginia beat Yale in 1915, 10-0. 

1916 had been unsuccessful, with a 4-5 record and blow-out losses again both Harvard and Yale.

Like many schools, UVA didn’t field a team in 1917-1918 due to the Great War.

Back on the gridiron, 1919 Virginia "Wahoos"

1919 started reasonably enough with the following record;

Virginia  12        Randolph-Macon   2
Virginia    0        Richmond   0
Virginia    0        Maryland   13
Virginia    7        Virginia Military Institute   0

On October 25, Virginia traveled to Harvard Stadium and got shellacked by the Crimson, 47-0.

Centre already had motivation to beat Virginia, but learning about how Harvard had wiped out the Wahoos increased it in a major way. Centre knew that if it could not only beat Virginia, but could win by a similar margin or greater than Harvard had, it would receive recognition that it so desperately sought.

Chief Myers, normally not one to boast, when asked about the upcoming game, was quoted as saying, “We’re simply going to beat them, and that’s all there is to it. We’re are confidant of victory, and the only thing we want to do is top Harvard’s score of 47-0 against Virginia.”

Centre left Danville at 6:00 AM and took a Southern coach to Lexington where the team boarded a chartered, private Pullman hooked to a regularly scheduled C&O steamer east to Charlottesville.

The entire freshman class and most of the rest of the students and many townspeople had seen the Colonels off, a scene which would be repeated many times over the next several years.

The game was played at Lambeth Field, also known as "The Colonnades," with a capacity of 8,000, and was built on a hill on the Virginia campus in 1913. It hosted the baseball and track teams as well as the football team.

Classic Lambeth Field, site of the 1919 Centre-Virginia game

The "Colonnades" 

Just like at Indiana, rain began as the game began which meant that Centre would have to rely mainly on its running game.

Virginia kicked off, the Colonels and Wahoos exchanged punts twice, Centre got the ball back for the third time, and the attack began.

Run after run took the ball down the field until Allen Davis ran it in from the 8. The PAT was good.

After holding the Virginians to downs, Bo returned a punt 45 yards, setting up good field position and Centre resumed the attack on the ground with Red Roberts being switched to the fullback position and smashing into the end zone.

The PAT made it 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Virginia scored its only points early in the second quarter.

Red Roberts had a very poor punt which was caused when he nearly dropped a very slick ball and the kick went virtually sideways toward the sideline on Centre’s 15-yard line.

The overeager Colonels jumped offsides twice and Virginia’s fullback, Kuyk, took 3 tries but scored from a couple of yards out.

Kuyk was good on his extra point attempt, and it was 14-7.

A Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter wrote that, “This touchdown aroused the ire of the Kentuckians, who scored twice before the period ended. Murphy, a substitute, broke away for 75 yards, and later, Captain McMillin repeated the stunt around Virginia’s right end.

It was 28-7 as the half ended.

The second half was more of the same. 

Murphy raced for an 85-yard score, and after Virginia had to punt again, Bo took the first snap following the kick and took it 70 yards to make it 42-7 after the 2 PAT’s were successfully converted.

Centre didn’t let up in the final quarter. Harvard’s 47 points against Virginia were in all of the Colonels’ minds as one last, long drive ended in Army Armstrong taking it in, and the final score was Centre, 49-7. 

Bo creates quite an impression

Indiana, and now Virginia, two flagship state universities, had been beaten.

Bo alone gained 252 yards. The wet and slick ball hampered any passing, and Centre completed only one toss for 10 yards.

It had been an overwhelming display by the Colonels made even more impressive by the fact that they had picked up 34 first downs while holding Virginia to 6.

Comparison to Harvard and a warning for upcoming West Virginia

A reporter summed up the game by writing, Snowday and Bell were in on every play and demoralized Virginia’s offense. Cregor and Van Antwerp cannot receive enough commendation. Their work was superb.

Montgomery and James wrecked the Virginia line, simply wrecked it. 

Weaver picked up 100% of his kicks, even with a soggy, spongy ball. He also played his position and bumped off everything headed his way.

McMillin, Davis, Murphy, Armstrong and Roberts simply bewildered Virginia with speed and strength. Together, these men form the greatest backfield south of the Mason-Dixon Line. 

Centre had traveled to Bloomington, Indiana and Charlottesville, Virginia with the goal of achieving recognition for its talented young men in the world of college football.

That goal had begun to be reached.

The long train ride back to Lexington and then Danville found the team rolling into the little Southern station at 11:30 PM.

As the train slowed, and finally braked, the players were overwhelmed to see a large crowd, several people deep, lined up along the tracks. The entire student body, plus many of the townspeople, had turned out en masse to welcome home their victorious Colonels.

After a noisy demonstration in front of the station, the whole throng followed the Gold and White’s banner into the downtown where, “they waked the echoes in the still and almost deserted streets.”

Main Street at night in Danville where the happy throng "waked the echoes in the still and almost deserted streets"

After more cheers, the students marched in file to the nearby campus of the Kentucky College for Women where they cheered and sang songs. As the happy throng finally began to drift away, they were applauded by scores of unseen hands in the darkened windows of the school.

A headline in the November 2 issue of the Boston Globe announced the results of the previous days’ game between Princeton and West Virginia which had occurred while Centre and Virginia were playing.

West Virginia Runs Rings Around Tigers

Rodgers Outstanding Star 

     Mountaineers Win, 25-0       

Those same Mountaineers were next as Centre looked forward to its next goal in its climb to the pinnacle of the world of college football.

It was time for another train trip, this time to Charleston, West Virginia.